People Not Going Back Into Movie Theaters

Hollywood has no idea how the story is going to end, or when, and whether it will be a tear-jerker or a happy ending.

Even though two-thirds of theaters have reopened during the Covid pandemic, people are not flocking to their local cinemas.

“Most people don’t feel comfortable gathering in large groups, gathering indoors around lots of different people even with cleanings and mask requirements, no one really wants to go to the movies,” says Joshua Starnes, President of the Houston Film Critics Society, who adds, “I think the fact that Disney moved almost all of their fall material to spread out between the end of next year and the year after that tells you everything you need to know.”

The studios are grimacing at box office receipts. The number one movie last weekend, showing on close to 3,000 screens nationwide, was Warner Brothers spy thriller “Tenet,” which pulled in under $5 million. Mulan, Disney’s expensive live action release, lost 72% of its audience in its second weekend in release. Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” was expected to be a huge hit this year.It’s now being held back to a December 2021 release date.

It is generally in the fall when production houses release their anticipated Oscar contenders. Most of those films won’t be coming out this year, and there might not be Oscars to hand out next year. Starnes says they’ve already pushed the ceremony back to April, and that’s now looking iffy. “By that point they’re talking about moving the Oscars to the middle of the year, and the Academy would have to give serious consideration whether it’s even worth having in 2020. It wouldn’t be the first time Oscars were cancelled – it happened in 1943 during WWII.

photo: Getty Images

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